Dirty Truck Review: The 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road 4×4

Recently, I had a 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road out for a bit of a jaunt into the wilderness and it was some of the most fun I’ve had off the beaten path. That’s because Toyota has made one hell of a machine in the 2016 Tacoma, made only better by the TRD Off-Road upgrades.

2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro 4x4_01On the inside of the 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road, you’ll be welcomed by a brightly colored interior with comfortable cloth-trimmed seats featuring Tacoma-themed materials, a Qi-compatible wireless device charger, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel sporting controls for music, cruise and more.

Toyota’s Entune Audio system gives one access to navigation and an app suite via a 7-inch touchscreen featuring built-in Pandora, Sirius XM radio, HD Radio for AM and FM bands, and streaming via Bluetooth, USB port, or AUX input. Entune’s voice-command system worked well and didn’t give any fuss in finding the needle (person) in the haystack that is my phone’s contacts.

A Premium Package & Technology Package equips front dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, blind spot monitoring (perfect for I-5), and a rear cross-traffic alert with rear parking sensor (which was great for the local grocery store).

2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro 4x4_22However, the machinery Toyota puts in the Tacoma is what really shines. A push-button start brings the 2016 Toyota Tacoma’s powerful 3.5L V6 Atkinson Cycle engine to life, putting 278 horsepower and 265-lb.ft. of torque at your toes.

Connected to the engine is a 6-speed automatic transmission and a 4WDemand part-time 4×4 system that worked brilliantly on all the roads we traveled. The off-road tuned suspension wasn’t too stiff while we drove on I-5 or the paved (nay ‘off-road’) streets of Seattle. However, we could feel that this truck was made for more.

So, I hopped onto chat with one of my local gurus and we conversed about the Tahuya ORV Park out near Shelton, WA. It had beginner paths that looked much like a poorly maintained dirt road and some roads that were well-maintained dirt-paved passes through the forests. One, I saw, had a mud pit.

I was sold.

2016 Toyota Tacoma - PressWe packed our bags into the spaciously sized backseat and headed out onto the road; I-5 to the Tacoma Narrows, then toward Bremerton and down the coast of the Hood Canal. As we started getting closer, I knew we were going to the right spot because all the trucks got dirtier and dirtier, eventually making way for dirt bikes and four wheelers.

We had made it to Tahuya (which isn’t difficult, it’s only an hour and a half away from Seattle by way of highways and nice roads). We took some clean vehicle pictures prior to making the Tacoma very, very dirty and got some very confused looks from the local denizens, one of which asked, “You’re going out in that?” Yes, good sir, I am.

And, we didn’t just get it dirty. We got it mud plopping to the ground in giant globs of goo or slung onto the roof (how I don’t know) dirty.

(More below photograph.)

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There, at the end of a short rolling road was a beautiful mud pit with zero debris. I spent a good 30 minutes with the 4×4 off, the traction control off, and the locking differential disengaged while mud flung behind the Tacoma in a spray of glory and smiles.

A spider-web of routes kept bringing me back to the pit in short order and the P265/70R15 off-road tires covering 16-inch machined contrast alloy wheels bit into the thin layer of slime again.

Now, the 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road 4×4 comes with hill-start assist and crawl control modes, however, I was smart enough to slowly back down the single-lane road to the turn around when faced with that kind of obstacle. I knew the vehicle could do it, but I knew I didn’t have the skills to try. So, back to the mud pit I went for round 2 (fight!).

(More below photograph.)

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Afterward, we drove around the back roads of the Tahuya area meeting new friends (including an older Tacoma!) until we finding found a nice spot by Oak Patch Lake (Rob calls it a pond). The sounds of the forest, broken only by the occasional BRAAAT, BRAAAT, Braaatt as bikes and quads whizzed by on the main road a few yards away.

The Tacoma looked good covered in mud and dust, it was comfortable for those bouncier moments and quality on the pavement, the interior so quiet you we had to put the windows down to ensure we’d hear everyone around us; what more could you ask from a pickup truck?

“Maybe a GoPro Mount?” someone will invariably ask, however, one is already included on the 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road.

Tech in the bed of the truck? Sure! It has that, too! The 2016 Toyota Tacoma comes with standard deck rail system featuring easily adjustable tie-down cleats, a power outlet, a composite bed covering, and a removable and lockable tailgate that offered a comfortable sitting spot during our stay at Oak Patch Lake.

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Seriously, this was one of the best ways to spend a few hours on a weekend: A great drive, a great mud pit featuring a romping good time, a nice relaxing rest beside a forest-surrounded lake, and then a cozy ride home.

Now, you may think that the 2016 Toyota Tacoma would be an expensive vehicle, but it comes in with a $33,730 MSRP ($37,610 as tested) for the TRD Off-Road trim or $23,660 MSRP for the base SR trim. In return you get a vehicle you can drive from the lot to your favorite ORV park and enjoy some of the muddier things in life.

I would gladly pay that price for the ability to go and have the kind of fun I did with the 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road at Tahuya. In fact, I may just be looking for my own (I did have way too much fun out there…).